Today: Seattle Food & Wine Experience

Are you going to the Seattle Food & Wine Experience today? It starts at 1 p.m. at Seattle Center Exhibition Hall. There will be more than 1,000 wines from 10 different countries, including 25 Washington wineries, 12 Oregon wineries and 45 California and International wineries.

There’s also going to be a Tweet Lounge – where some of Washington’s wine bloggers have been invited to tweet about the different wines and fab foods at the event.

For more details, please see my previous blog post … and you can see who is pouring on the event’s website.

If you’ll be there and tweeting, the hashtag is #SFWE


Wine with Dinner: Roast Beef & Goosecross Cab

We saved our bottle of 2004 Howell Mountain (Napa Valley) Cabernet Sauvignon from Goosecross Cellars for a rainy but special day. A rainy day isn’t hard to find in Seattle. As for special, we decided the time had come as our mini-vacation wound down a few weeks ago. So we opened this special luscious Cab to accompany our savoury roast beef dinner. 

And oh did we savour this wine! Howell Mountain Cab from Goosecross Cellars is deep, rich and elegant, with concentrated flavors, firm structure and complex – a wonderful wine to sip on its own but even better when paired with roast beef. From the tasting notes:

Tremendous depth and complexity. Rich, deep and dark, our Howell Mountain Cabernet is perfumed with sweet black plum, dried cherry, roasted espresso bean and anise. Lush, palate-coating flavors of black cherry, dark chocolate, cedar and subtle smoke finish with round, integrated tannins.”

Winemaker Geoff Gorsuch likes to pair his Howell Mountain Cab with steak – in particular, a recipe from Goosecross co-owner Colleen Topper for Grilled Rib-Eye Steak with Garlic Butter. That sounds heavenly! You can find it in the extensive recipe section of the Goosecross website. (Simply select “Howell Mountain Cabernet” from the Wine Varietal dropdown menu. I’m printing it out right now!

In Napa Valley, Cabernet is king. And 2004 Howell Mountain Cab from Goosecross Cellars is a king of a Cab! But the only place you can buy it is their website – so be sure to stop by to see their wonderful wines, a huge database of recipes, podcasts, blog posts and so much more.


Rockin’ Sips at Efeste

We’ve been to many rockin’ events at Efeste in Woodinville’s wine warehouse district and every one of them was a blast. There’s another one coming up on Saturday (Feb. 27) that sounds like it will meet or beat the high party standard that Efeste creates. It’s called Rockin’ Sips.

Rockin’ Sips promises an evening of music and wine from across the state. And better yet, all proceeds from the $35 ticket go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Take a look at this lineup of wineries and winemakers:

The space is limited to 300 people, and this is one you don’t want to miss. Think about it – an evening of rock-solid Washington wine (and you can meet the winemakers), great music and a fantastic cause – four rockin’ good reasons to purchase tickets now for Rockin’ Sips at Efeste!


Coming Soon: Seattle Food & Wine Experience

It’s almost here! The Seattle Food & Wine Experience comes to the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall on Feb. 28 from 1 – 5 p.m. and we can’t wait. We’re really looking forward to this event – more than 1,000 wines from 10 different countries, including pours from 25 Washington wineries, 12 Oregon wineries and 45 California and International wineries.
For more details, please see my previous blog post … and you can see who is pouring on the event’s website.

Hope to see you there!

Desert Wind Syrah

Desert Wind Winery is a wonderful place to visit in Prosser. I’ve written previously about their wines and fabulous gift store: “The wines were rich and complex, and we spent way too much time in one of the most fabulous gift shops we’ve seen in a winery tasting room!”

And we loved their 2006 Ruah Red Blend at Sip of Snoqualmie last year – it’s since won a bronze medal at the prestigious 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

So we were delighted when Desert Wind recently sent us a bottle of the newly released 2006 Syrah to sample. This Syrah is blended with just a touch of Cabernet Sauv (.7%) and Merlot (.6%) that brings out concentrated flavors of blackberry and chocolate.

Full of potential, Desert Wind’s 2006 Syrah is still young – it was released last month and still needs time to settle down. But we absolutely have no doubt that this big wine will soon follow in the footsteps of its predecessor, the 2005 Syrah, which received 87 points from Wine Spectator and a Silver medal at the World Wine Championships in 2007.

Decant it and drink it now, or enjoy Desert Wind 2006 Syrah through 2016.


What a Riot!

Trio Vintners is a fairly new winery by Walla Walla standards. According to my friend and Walla Walla wine expert, Catie from Through the Walla Walla Grape Vine, Trio Vintners opened its doors in 2007. In addition to winemaking skills, the trio of winemakers, Denise Slattery, her husband Steve Michener and their partner Tim Boushey, also bring an assortment of writing, communications and business skills to the winery located at the Walla Walla airport’s wine incubator.

The writing talent is evidenced on the label of their new release, 2007 RIOT: “A riot of aromas and flavors, our first red wine blend from Washington’s Columbia Valley may lead to unrestrained revelry and an unbridled outbreak of passion.”

And the wine is as much fun as the label. The 2007 RIOT blends 52% Sangiovese, 36% Syrah and 12% Mourvedre and was just released last November. Because of its young age, we recommend that you let it decant for awhile before tasting. But once it’s had time to open up, you will understand why this fun red wine won a Bronze Medal at the 2009 Seattle Wine Awards.

RIOT is a reasonably priced wine that is great for those week days where you want to kick back and relax after a long day at work.

Another wine from Trio Vintners that stands out is the 100% single-vineyard 2006 Syrah. But let it decant for awhile to open up, too. Although it was released in April 2009, our first sips showed a young wine with lots of potential. That potential turned into the real deal after letting the wine stand for awhile – the aromas and flavors of berries and chocolate were enticing and left you wanting more.

In the name of full disclosure, a bottle of 2007 RIOT and 2006 Syrah was sent to us by Trio Vintners to taste.

We also heard from our friend Paul at Full Pull Wines that Trio Vintners makes a great Zinfandel. 


Attention Wine Bloggers!

Listen up wine bloggers – is offering a campaign that you need to know about! Here’s how you enter to win an all-expenses-paid ticket to ride the Washington wine highway!

In conjunction with the Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC) in Walla Walla this June, WineCHATr is holding a campaign with a special prize: an all-expenses-paid road trip for 12 bloggers, who will wine and dine their way across Washington state.

Aptly called WBC-or-Bust: Road to Walla Walla, this promises to be an overall amazing Washington wine experience – and all you have to do to enter is put a banner on your blog and occasionally blog about Washington’s wine industry. Full contest details are on the WBC-or-Bust website. (Full disclosure: I’m a supporter/ judge.)

And if the easy-to-enter rules haven’t grabbed your attention yet, have a look at this itinerary:

  •  Day 1-June 23: Seattle & Woodinville Wine Country: The day starts in Woodinville with a food & wine pairing at Chateau Ste. Michelle and a Grand Tasting at Willows Lodge, followed by lunch at Barking Frog. Then it’s back to Seattle for a palate refresher at Pike Brewery near the historic Pike Place Market. After an afternoon break, enjoy a spectacular dinner at the Waterfront Seafood Grill.
  • Day 2-June 24: Leave Seattle in the morning and head east over the Cascade Mountains toward beautiful Washington Wine Country. But first, stop at CaveB Inn for brunch along the picturesque Columbia River Gorge. From a farm-sponsored luncheon among the vines of DuBrul Vineyard, to a Yakima Valley Grand Tasting to a Walla Walla Vintners Pizza Social, the day will be packed with an exceptional Washington wine experience.
  • Day 3-June 25 (Start of the Wine Bloggers Conference): You’re now in Walla Walla with a deeper understanding of Washington’s thriving wine industry. Additional activities will be announced.
  • June 27: Return trip to Seattle with stops along the way (TBD)

There’s plenty of time left to qualify – the campaign concludes at the end of April with the announcement of the 12 winning bloggers. So what are you waiting for? Start blogging! Cheers!


A great reunion with an old friend at a school house

It’s happened to all of us. You have a wonderful experience at a specific time in your life but then things change and you move on. You remember, but you are occupied with many new wonderful experiences.

That happened to us with the wines of L’Ecole No 41, the third-oldest winery in Washington state. We first visited the winery in the old school house in Lowden, near Walla Walla, in April 2007. A few months later, this blog was born and one of my first posts, titled Who knew that “back to school” could be so much fun?, described a L’Ecole tasting at Vino Bello.

Almost three years later, we reunited with our wonderful old friend when L’Ecole sent us some bottles of current releases to sample. What a school reunion – we tasted five wines and they were all magnificent! (I would say they received an A, but that’s too corny!)

First, the two 2006 blends, Apogee and Perigee. Regular readers of this blog know I’m a big fan of Bordeaux blends. And these two wines truly demonstrate what can happen when you combine old-world style and elegance with new-world grapes.

2006 Apogee blends grapes from Pepper Bridge Vineyard: 46% Cab Sauv, 42% Merlot, 8% Malbec and 4% Cab Franc. When Pepper Bridge fruit is used, wines tend to be highly structured and bold. Suffice it to say we loved 2006 Apogee! But … my palate loved 2006 Estate Perigee even more.

That’s because 2006 Estate Perigee is heavier on the Cabernet: 56% Cab Sauv, 35% Merlot and 10% Cab Franc. Perigee is a blend of fruit from the oldest blocks of L’Ecole’s Seven Hills Vineyard, “renowned for its rich elegance, seductive aromas and complex, silky finish.” Yes, those are the words on the bottle, and I couldn’t describe it better myself. Of the five wines, Perigee is my favorite.

By the way, L’Ecole No 41 is a partner in the 220-acre Seven Hills Vineyard, along with Leonetti Cellar and Pepper Bridge Winery.

Since we were so pleased with these two bottles from L’Ecole, we decided to continue trying their other offerings. Next up, 2006 Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – dense dark fruit with a spicy finish. Wow! We absolutely adore this Cab and are thinking about purchasing it.

We then moved onto 2007 Estate Syrah, 100% Syrah from three blocks in Seven Hills Vineyard. If you prefer rich, robust, big and earthy Syrahs, this one is for you. One sip and you’ll see why this Syrah was awarded 90 points from Wine Spectator, 91 from Wine & Spirits and 92 from Wine Enthusiast. We paired it with a savory roast, which was perfect. But in the summer, it will most definitely accompany our barbeques.

Finally, we also enjoyed the 2007 Estate Merlot; interestingly 81% Merlot was blended with 11% Cab Sauv and 8%Cab Franc, which gave it a unique rich and complex flavor.

These five wines underline why Wine & Spirits honored L’Ecole No 41 as a regional Winery of the Year for eight consecutive years, achieving status in the magazine’s Hall of Fame. From a marketing perspective, the winery also has a great tag line: “Think Walla Walla – Drink L’Ecole.”

I suspect our reunion with this winery is going to last a long time.